Russia's Soyuz MS-11 successfully launched

Russia's Soyuz MS-11 successfully launched

The manned Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft with three crewmembers of the new expedition to the International Space Station (ISS) has entered the near-Earth orbit and started its autonomous flight to the orbital outpost, Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos said.

"The spacecraft separated from the third stage of the Soyuz-FG carrier rocket in a normal mode and at the designated time," TASS cited Roscosmos as saying.

The Soyuz-FG carrier rocket with the manned Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft blasted off from the first launch site of the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 14:31 Moscow time.

The new expedition comprises Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Anne McClain and astronaut of the Canadian Space Agency David Saint-Jacques. They will join three crew already on board – Serena Auñón-Chancellor of the U.S., Germany’s Alexander Gerst, and Russia’s Sergey Prokopyev. The new crew will stay in orbit for 194 days. The spacecraft is due to dock with the International Space Station today at 20:36 Moscow time.

This launch was originally scheduled to take place on December 20, but Russia was forced to push it forward after their previous attempt at a crew launch failed on October 11.

NASA's chief Jim Bridenstine expressed gratitude to head of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin. "The #Exp58 crew is safely in orbit! I’m grateful to Director General Dmitry Rogozin and the entire @NASA and @roscosmos teams for their dedication to making this launch a success. Ad Astra!" Bridenstine wrote on his Twitter page.

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